Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Last Summer of the Death Warriors

Stork, Francisco X. 2010. LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545151337 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

When Pancho’s mentally disabled sister Rosa dies of an allergic reaction to alcohol in a motel room with her married boyfriend, Pancho is out for revenge and wants to kill the guy. Since both of his parents are dead, he is sent to a home for boys where he meets D.Q. who has cancer and his own issues with his mother who wants him to undergo chemotherapy that has some very severe side effects. D.Q. is also writing a “Death Warrior Manifesto” with the philosophy that you only live when you love. When Pancho is sent to care for D.Q. while he is in a facility at the hospital, he is given a chance to meet the man who gave Rosa the alcohol and meet D.Q.’s mother and girlfriend. Both boys are forced to make decisions about their issues and their futures in this well-written coming of age novel.

This richly layered story lacks action, but provides a compelling story as it addresses the difficult subjects of death, revenge, friendship, and love. Both Pancho and D.Q. find peace with themselves, but often at a cost. Stork’s superb writing and finely drawn characters makes this a book to read and reread.

This is one of those books that lends itself to deep discussion in both the classroom and book discussion groups.

Other novels about teens struggling with difficult issues:
Avasti, Swati. SPLIT. ISBN 9780375863400
Saenz, Benjamin Alire. LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER. ISBN 9781933693583
Shusterman, Neil. BRUISER. ISBN 9780061134081
Stork, Francisco X. MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD. ISBN 9780545056908

By Janet Hilbun

No comments: